Big Daddy Kane said it best “Pumpin’ ain’t easy”… Ok maybe he actually said pimpin’ but obviously he hasn’t attempted to extract milk from his nipples at all hours of the day or night (and sometimes in the most unique locations) in order for a tiny human to have access to their next meal.
In April I became a mom for the second time, and this time around I was entering motherhood more informed and with determination to establish a breastfeeding relationship that didn’t exclusively rely on pumping.
With my oldest son, born December 2013, we had a rocky start to breastfeeding. He was horrible at latching and because I wanted to make sure he had access to breast milk, I bought a breast pump the day I got out of the hospital, found a post on Pinterest with pumping advice, and started a pumping regimen of 20 minutes at a time every 3 hours. This continued for 16 months until my milk supply had dwindled to where I was only getting 1-2 ounces at each session. There is a lot more to this story (tongue/lip tie, low supply, supplementing, milk allergy…the struggle was real!) But I’ll save that for a future blog post.
With my newborn, our breastfeeding relationship is off to a better start but due to medications I take and my impending return to work, I nurse and pump daily. Being hooked to a “milk machine” (as my 3-year-old so fondly refers to my pump) doesn’t have to be miserable. I’ve found that these go-to products have made my pumping life far more comfortable and efficient.
Pumping Accessories and Must Haves:
- While you don’t have to invest in a pump with all the bells and whistles, I have found that these are the 4 things I would not want to live without:
- Backlighting – having a backlight means minimal lights are needed to get you through a night pumping session. This helps me fall back asleep faster and doesn’t wake my husband or baby up.
- Rechargeable Battery – my first pump only worked when plugged in, so this time around I went with a rechargeable battery so when I end up having to pump in places that I didn’t anticipate, like in an Airport Shuttle (yep, been there done that!) I don’t have to worry about figuring out how to plug my pump in.
- Car Adapter – if a pump with a rechargeable battery isn’t an option for you or your budget is tight, check to see if a car adapter is an option. I found that when I went back to work if I had to go somewhere for a meeting and they didn’t have proper accommodations for a place for me to pump, I would often choose to pump in my car over a restroom. Having a car adapter saved me many times.
- Timer – My pumping sessions are typically 20 minutes long, and I cannot tell you how many times in the past I forgot to set a timer only to have to guess how long I’d already been pumping. If you can get a pump with a timer built in that starts when you turn the machine on, I highly recommend it!
- Pumpin Pal Flanges
- Every machine comes with it’s own flanges (the piece that goes over your breast and connects to the bottles) but I highly recommend getting Pumpin Pal Flanges (you can find them on Amazon). These flanges are made so that they don’t stick straight out, they actually curve down. With the manufacturer’s flanges that came with my pump, I felt like I had to lean forward to ensure the milk headed into the bottles. With the Pumpin Pal Flanges, they are molded so that the milk automatically moves at a downward angle, which means you can actually sit in a reclined position and not worry about the milk backing up in the flange against your breast.
- Hands-Free Nursing Bra
- Without a doubt, I would not have made it 16 months pumping if I had not for my hands free nursing bra. There are so many on the market to choose from too. Medela just updated their Hands-Free Bra and it is 100 times better than their old one; it retains its shape and the zipper doesn’t constantly miss zip, which was a problem I did have when I pumped with my first son.
Storage Must Haves:
- Milk Storage Bags
- If you don’t want to wash a million bottles a day (ok, really just as many as your child needs while you’re not with them, but it does feel like millions), I highly recommend Kiinde Twist storage bags. These bags drop-in to the Kiinde bottle so you just toss the bag when the bottle is finished and wash the nipple. You can also pump directly into the bags which also saves cleanup time with pumping. The Kiinde system comes with a bunch of adapters so you can make the twist bags work with just about any pump.
- Wet/Dry Bags
- Wet and dry bags are ideal for storing your pump parts for going to and from places, as well as in between sessions. If you have access to a refrigerator you can actually store your used pump parts between sessions without washing, and then at the end of the day take them home to wash just once. I got these wet/dry bags on Amazon for under $10; they have good size pockets so I can store all my pump parts as well as my hands-free nursing bra, nursing cover, and some snacks. These bags can be tossed in the washing machine or wiped clean with soap and water.
- Mini Fridge
- If you’re lucky enough to have space, putting a mini fridge in the room that you will be pumping in most is incredibly helpful. Not only can you store your milk, but you can store your pump parts between sessions, and snacks!
Coverage Must Haves:
- Tension Rod and Curtain
- If you are lucky enough to have an office but it has a window with no blinds, don’t stress! Head to Target or Walmart and pick up a tension rod and curtains. Be sure to measure your window, but the tension rod will adjust to fit your window without any drilling. I recommend a blackout curtain because it ensures no one can see in.
- Nursing Tank Top
- I have two favorite nursing tanks that can both be found at Target (Top A, Top B). I wear a nursing tank every day because it means my back and belly aren’t exposed while I’m pumping. Even though I’m not typically pumping in the same room as other people (although that has totally happened, and more than once, at the airport, in the locker room, at a golf resort) it makes me feel more comfortable.
- Nursing Cover
- I keep a Covered Goods nursing cover in my wet/dry bag for those times I might be pumping in not so private spaces or if I am pumping at a location that I don’t pump at regularly, such as a colleague’s office at their work site. You just never know who might decide to pop in.
All of these items have made me be able to pump more efficiently and effectively. Are there any products or tips you have found to be helpful in your pumping journey? Please comment below or share them on social media using the hashtag #nphxmoms.